Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway
View Poll Results: Obvious imitation team kit - yea or nay
It's OK - harmless novelty items
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No - it's fruit of an evil tree
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Voters: 84. You may not vote on this poll

Beyond bogus

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Old 04-15-18, 12:27 PM
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Beyond bogus

So, recent time trial experience and talk of one-piece kit got me in a shopping mood. Unsurprisingly, selection is not as vast as it is for "normal" cycling gear, and the UK vendors' selections is particularly limited. But I did happen across one Hong Kong based vendor selling a bunch of "team" versions. Some of the most egregious examples of their knocked-off-ness were "Team Castelli" (a blatant copy of a current Castelli model that normally retails for four times as much) "Team BMC" with a great big Assos logo, and best/worst of all, "Team QLE" (evidently stemming from the same confusion that leads many to read "GIQOT" on current models of the TCR, Propel etc.).
Now, realizing that trademark infringement is only meaningful when it is misleading, I'm figuring some of them aren't as bad as the others. There's one design for FDJ (2011?) that looks pretty smart (mostly white top but dark blue bottom) and I don't think anyone would think for a minute that it was authentic anything, and I kind of like the one for Acqua & Sapone - a short-lived, now defunct team anyhow (I thought it was kind of neat that about the most notable achievements of members of that team were a couple national TT championships in places like Croatia and Belarus, the latter from a guy right about my own size).
They're dirt cheap, and I figure these particular examples are more like novelty t-shirts than counterfeits, so I'm thinking: for early morning training sessions and JRA with the gang, why not? Maybe because I don't want to support the same people who produce fake Castelli and Ale' gear? What say you? Fruit of an evil tree, or harmless novelty items?
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Old 04-15-18, 12:31 PM
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Old 04-15-18, 12:43 PM
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Bogus.
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Old 04-15-18, 02:42 PM
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No way, not a chance, and probably a waste of money.
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Old 04-15-18, 02:56 PM
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The problem with buying Chinese knockoffs is it encourages their manufacturing culture of ripping off other businesses that invested a lot of money into establishing a marque.

Business and marketing media on all sides of the issue have talked about this for years. Western companies whose primary product is intellectual property have said whenever they try to do business in China the government twists their arms to divulge trade secrets, source code, etc., as a condition of doing business in China. Then the IP is stolen and the creators get nothing.

This doesn't just hurt the bottom line of big corporations. It's outright theft from individual artists and graphic designers who see their designs stolen and used by Chinese manufacturers without compensation or legal recourse. I personally know some artists and graphic designers who've been victims of this type of theft.

And some unscrupulous U.S. and European companies take advantage of this. They'll steal the designs, create the marketing schemes, then have the products (let's say socks) made in China and blame the Chinese for the theft. But the American or British folks who actually own the companies will continue selling the products knowing the graphics were stolen.

I've bought some cheap Chinese made cycling apparel, but only stuff that didn't seem to be a knockoff of someone else's design. But I've avoided Sponeed because it appears they're trying to make a half-assed impression of aping the look of Specialized designs at a quick glance. Well, that... and as dumb as "Specialized" is as a brand name, Sponeed is worse. Sounds like offal from a hide rendering facility. "Honey, go soak in a tub with deodorant, you reek of sponeed."
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Old 04-15-18, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
The problem with buying Chinese knockoffs is it encourages their manufacturing culture of ripping off other businesses that invested a lot of money into establishing a marque.

Business and marketing media on all sides of the issue have talked about this for years. Western companies whose primary product is intellectual property have said whenever they try to do business in China the government twists their arms to divulge trade secrets, source code, etc., as a condition of doing business in China. Then the IP is stolen and the creators get nothing.

This doesn't just hurt the bottom line of big corporations. It's outright theft from individual artists and graphic designers who see their designs stolen and used by Chinese manufacturers without compensation or legal recourse. I personally know some artists and graphic designers who've been victims of this type of theft.

And some unscrupulous U.S. and European companies take advantage of this. They'll steal the designs, create the marketing schemes, then have the products (let's say socks) made in China and blame the Chinese for the theft. But the American or British folks who actually own the companies will continue selling the products knowing the graphics were stolen.

I've bought some cheap Chinese made cycling apparel, but only stuff that didn't seem to be a knockoff of someone else's design. But I've avoided Sponeed because it appears they're trying to make a half-assed impression of aping the look of Specialized designs at a quick glance. Well, that... and as dumb as "Specialized" is as a brand name, Sponeed is worse. Sounds like offal from a hide rendering facility. "Honey, go soak in a tub with deodorant, you reek of sponeed."
Of course, copyright and trademark issues can become more complicated.

For example, Puddles the Duck (1920's) came before Donald Duck (1934).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oregon_Duck

But, the characters merged around 1940, but have both shared features, as well as differences.

Walt Disney apparently was aware of the Oregon Donald Duck.

But, after Walt's death (1966), Disney Corp decided to renegotiate the licensing deal (1973).

And, of course, copyright law has been changed many times since 1934/1940. So, while the original Donald copyright should have expired years ago, we're stuck with still being under Disney Corp's thumb... and pay royalties for all UofO gear.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:21 PM
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Yeah, and there are other examples of alleged infringement that turned out to be very muddled. Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman character is an example. Turns out the caricature was probably derived from a 19th century caricature that was long since in the public domain.

But I'm not talking about any gray zone stuff here. The Chinese are directly and unequivocally and undeniably ripping off graphic designs, line for line, dot for dot, color for color.

And, as I mentioned above, many US and European business representatives have talked about being coerced into compromising their trade secrets and source code as a condition of doing business in China. The reason we don't hear about this more often is those businesses will become persona non grata in China if they complain publicly. So we only hear from the businesses who've already withdrawn from China, or from reps who are no longer with those companies.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:38 PM
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Trademark ripoff, no I'll pass. Misleading means a similar trademark or branding, on generally the same category of product. That that an informed person would spot the difference doesn't make it less misleading.

If the product itself is similar, I don't really care. Same jersey, no branding or other visual markers that try to trick people into thinking it's a name brand, I'm fine with it. The team name, that's hard to say since I've never wanted someone else's team on my jersey, and I think those are probably trademarked by the team? Probably also a no-go.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:41 PM
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I would think that I should be paid to have business names (Campagnolo, Shimano, etc) scribbled on my clothing.
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Old 04-15-18, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
The problem with buying Chinese knockoffs is it encourages their manufacturing culture of ripping off other businesses that invested a lot of money into establishing a marque.

....

This doesn't just hurt the bottom line of big corporations. It's outright theft from individual artists and graphic designers who see their designs stolen and used by Chinese manufacturers without compensation or legal recourse. I personally know some artists and graphic designers who've been victims of this type of theft.

...

But I've avoided Sponeed because it appears they're trying to make a half-assed impression of aping the look of Specialized designs at a quick glance. Well, that... and as dumb as "Specialized" is as a brand name, Sponeed is worse. Sounds like offal from a hide rendering facility. "Honey, go soak in a tub with deodorant, you reek of sponeed."
Sponeed.....

But seriously, it's your point about a designer's or originator's claim that interests me. For team kit, I imagine that what's salient to its identity as such - the arrangement of sponsors' logos on the panels and background colors, etc. - is work-for-hire, not something a designer ever had any independent claim to, and the entity for which the work was done is, in many cases, defunct. It seems most unlikely that the heirs or assigns, if there are any, would have much if any claim. After all, while Acqua & Sapone are still alive and well as a chain of beauty & hygiene stores (aka "drugstores"), they no longer have any meaningful connection to cycling; the team - the would-be owner of the design - is completely defunct. One might argue that there isn't any entity at all with a meaningful claim to the design of the Acqua & Sapone team kit. It's questionable whether the original manufacturer of the kit has any current claim to the design, especially if the garments were never sold to anyone but the team to begin with, and if it isn't public domain yet, adverse possession, as it were, by assorted knock-off artists will guarantee that it is soon enough.
Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Yeah, and there are other examples of alleged infringement that turned out to be very muddled. Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman character is an example. Turns out the caricature was probably derived from a 19th century caricature that was long since in the public domain.

But I'm not talking about any gray zone stuff here. The Chinese are directly and unequivocally and undeniably ripping off graphic designs, line for line, dot for dot, color for color.
Yes, this latter is to be scrupulously avoided. But if the copyright-free and (essentially) public domain stuff is all anyone buys from the folks who distribute such stuff, might they be more readily convinced to avoid the counterfeiting?

It's just a cheap, goofy skinsuit, but I wonder if I should ask an attorney....
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Old 04-15-18, 04:11 PM
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It occurs to me that designs like the Acqua & Sapone team kit are essentially salvaged - if anyone wants to claim the design, they owe the Chinese a fee for bringing it back and generating interest.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:15 PM
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I wouldn't, and my conscience would be clean.

The conscience is an amazing thing. Some liken it to a judge because it can convict you.


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Old 04-15-18, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
Sponeed.....

But seriously, it's your point about a designer's or originator's claim that interests me. For team kit, I imagine that what's salient to its identity as such - the arrangement of sponsors' logos on the panels and background colors, etc. - is work-for-hire, not something a designer ever had any independent claim to, and the entity for which the work was done is, in many cases, defunct. It seems most unlikely that the heirs or assigns, if there are any, would have much if any claim. After all, while Acqua & Sapone are still alive and well as a chain of beauty & hygiene stores (aka "drugstores"), they no longer have any meaningful connection to cycling; the team - the would-be owner of the design - is completely defunct. One might argue that there isn't any entity at all with a meaningful claim to the design of the Acqua & Sapone team kit. It's questionable whether the original manufacturer of the kit has any current claim to the design, especially if the garments were never sold to anyone but the team to begin with, and if it isn't public domain yet, adverse possession, as it were, by assorted knock-off artists will guarantee that it is soon enough.
Yes, this latter is to be scrupulously avoided. But if the copyright-free and (essentially) public domain stuff is all anyone buys from the folks who distribute such stuff, might they be more readily convinced to avoid the counterfeiting?

It's just a cheap, goofy skinsuit, but I wonder if I should ask an attorney....
Just look up the mark to see if it's Live on uspto.gov. easy.
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Old 04-16-18, 06:18 AM
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If you're wearing an advertisement, then the company your advertising for should be happy, especially if it doesn't even make clothes or anything cycling related.


One of the reasons knockoffs exist is because pricing is inflated. In a free market knockoffs serve as a way to rein in prices.
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Old 04-16-18, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by f4rrest View Post
Just look up the mark to see if it's Live on uspto.gov. easy.
How easy? What do we look up? There's no question that Acqua & Sapone is a "live" brand (at least in Italy) or that Acqua & Sapone the race team is equally dead. But does the former have any claim to the design of the kit when their branding is just a part of the collage that makes it distinctive team kit (transformative fair use?)? Was the original market only the team (in which case the infringement issue is moot), or did (does) the manufacturer have an exclusive right to produce it for any market, i.e., a right that survives the team for which it was designed (possibly by an entity independent of the maker)?

On many of the other examples from this vendor, the maker's branding is clear, if not prominent, as they were/are an actual sponsor as well. Regardless, as a garment maker's mark on a garment, I'd say that would be blatant infringement.

The photos of the Acqua & Sapone kit aren't so clear. Perhaps I should look elsewhere and see if the maker's mark is or ever was identifiable, and if that maker is still around....
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Old 04-16-18, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by San Pedro View Post
If you're wearing an advertisement, then the company your advertising for should be happy, especially if it doesn't even make clothes or anything cycling related.


One of the reasons knockoffs exist is because pricing is inflated. In a free market knockoffs serve as a way to rein in prices.
I'm not so sure. More than reining in prices, knock-offs stifle creativity: much of the time it's not worthwhile to create something if someone else makes all the money off of it. But this is where the idea of salvaged designs starts to have appeal. If someone abandoned a design and didn't expect to get anything from it, when someone else salvages it, they demonstrate that it actually has inherent value and appeal after all - that the design "stood the test of time" in a way. If a design inadvertently gets new life as public domain, it encourages other designers to value their work, not give up, and to do good jobs.

Then there is the question of associations vs actual ownership. I mean, the black and orange Molteni jersey isn't a bad design, but that's not why anyone buys it. I think if anyone deserves royalties from it, it's The Cannibal, but I don't think he has the rights to any.
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Old 04-16-18, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by San Pedro View Post
If you're wearing an advertisement, then the company your advertising for should be happy, especially if it doesn't even make clothes or anything cycling related.


One of the reasons knockoffs exist is because pricing is inflated. In a free market knockoffs serve as a way to rein in prices.

In the free market knockoffs are theft and the reason they exist is because of thieves. Those who do it need to go to prison.

You can design and produce your own Lexus IS300 but in so doing you are stealing from Lexus. You can photocopy a book I've written and sell it online but in so doing you are stealing from me. And you can create a jersey with a copyrighted design on it but you have stolen the design from its owner. The cost of the original doesn't justify stealing.

You can support such activities but in so doing you are supporting criminals, many of whom do far worse things than counterfeiting and patent theft. If you knowingly buy a counterfeit then you are a thief.


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Old 04-16-18, 08:54 AM
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I voted 'NO', but I think I misunderstood the question. I actually don't have a problem with cheap chinese production of these things.

I originally though the question referred to amateurs wearing standard pro team kit replicas...which I think is ridiculous in general.
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Old 04-16-18, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
In the free market knockoffs are theft and the reason they exist is because of thieves. Those who do it need to go to prison.

You can design and produce your own Lexus IS300 but in so doing you are stealing from Lexus. You can photocopy a book I've written and sell it online but in so doing you are stealing from me. And you can create a jersey with a copyrighted design on it but you have stolen the design from its owner. The cost of the original doesn't justify stealing.

You can support such activities but in so doing you are supporting criminals, many of whom do far worse things than counterfeiting and patent theft. If you knowingly buy a counterfeit then you are a thief.


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Bah. Chinese knockoffs are one of the natural predators for big brand name companies when it comes to companies making money on nothing other than a 'name.' If they marketed and sold based on value and return for cost, it wouldn't be an issue for them. Knockoffs are invaluable in thinning the herd, so to speak.

Fair play IMO.
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Old 04-16-18, 08:58 AM
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Buying pirated goods supports intellectual property theft by international criminals whether it's a T-shirt, a fake "rolex" or an operating system.

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Old 04-16-18, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by San Pedro View Post
In a free market knockoffs serve as a way to rein in prices.
Yeah, the same way house burglars serve as a way to rein in wealth inequality...
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Old 04-16-18, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
It occurs to me that designs like the Acqua & Sapone team kit are essentially salvaged - if anyone wants to claim the design, they owe the Chinese a fee for bringing it back and generating interest.
Acqua & Sapone might have reasons not to have team kit currently. If they own the trademark, they have a right to control how it's used.

You are suggesting that not only do they not have such a right, they owe people for using it in a way they don't choose how it is used.

Coca Cola used to be made with cocaine. I doubt the current company would be happy to pay people to "generate interest" in other people promoting that association.
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Old 04-16-18, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by San Pedro View Post
If you're wearing an advertisement, then the company your advertising for should be happy, especially if it doesn't even make clothes or anything cycling related.
Companies might not want the advertising they don't choose to create.

Originally Posted by San Pedro View Post
One of the reasons knockoffs exist is because pricing is inflated. In a free market knockoffs serve as a way to rein in prices.
The reason knockoffs exist is because of the more-expensive items they are copying. People are generally only interested in the knockoffs because they are a misrepresentation.
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Old 04-16-18, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason View Post
Yeah, the same way house burglars serve as a way to rein in wealth inequality...
POTD!


Like burglars, some people will do anything to get what they want for the least amount of money possible. I blame the Internets.
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Old 04-16-18, 11:08 AM
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I'm genuinely surprised here by the outpouring of emotional support for the bottom lines of multi-million dollar companies...
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